Sep 24, 2015
Every month we ask someone from the 3D printing sector to write about what they're thinking, doing or printing. Today our guest blogger is Patrick Schuur, founder of 3D printing startup print+. Their first Kickstarter got funded last week – in less than 48 hours!
Over the past years high-quality, easy-to-use, and affordable 3D printers – such as the Ultimaker – have popped up all over the world. They are even connected through a sharing network called 3D Hubs that currently has 22.000+ printers on their network. For the first time in years, everything is in place to start distributed local manufacturing of consumer goods. Print+ is set to change the way products are manufactured and consumed. The aim is to create fully modular products that – for the largest part – can be 3D printed locally. Unprintable parts are provided by print+ in kit form. The fact that the end product is fully modular means that each part can be easily replaced or reprinted when worn out or broken.
The first product print+ has developed is a DIY headphone kit. The choice for a headphone was made because it is a product that consist of few parts, simple electronics, fits on many desktop 3D printers and can be printed within a reasonable amount of time (about 20 hours).
The concept is easy: print+ sends people a kit with all the essential electronics and non-printable parts, all people have to do is print the parts and assemble the product. People either 3D print parts themselves, orders parts from a local 3D Hub or get them printed at a local 3D print store. The headphone can be assembled without the need to solder, glue or screw. Print+ makes all their 3D files freely available so they can be customized and improved by anyone.
Originally the headphone kits would become available with only black parts. During product development, the wide variety of filament colors was noticed. Over time it became clear that it would make perfect sense to offer print+ components in a wide range of colors - to match the built-in customizable nature of 3D printing. People will be able to combine their favorite filament color with a cushion, headband, and audio cable in the color of their choice, making nearly endless combinations possible. The option for different colors give the 3D printed headphones a higher quality look and feel then if it would just be black parts combined with 3D printed colored plastic parts.All people have to do is print the parts and assemble the product. The headphone can be assembled without the need to solder, glue or screw.
The print+ headphone kits ship in 1/10th of the volume a completely assembled headphone normally ships in – which is a reduction of 1000% of the shipping volume needed. The vision is that print+ products will be made with locally made/recycled plastic and print+ hopes that local production and recycling of plastic will take great flight.
The vision is that print+ products will be made with locally made/recycled plastic and print+ hopes that local production and recycling of plastic will take great flight.
All prototyping and development of the print+ headphone was done on an Ultimaker 2. Over a period of less than a year, more than 10kg of prototypes were printed on the print+ Ultimaker. Right before the Kickstarter launch, there were two additional Ultimaker 2’s printing headphones non-stop. A project like print+ would have never been possible without the ease of use and reliability of the Ultimaker 2. The Ultimaker is not only a go-to tool during product development – print+ envisions the Ultimaker also becoming a very popular printer for creating end products.
Print+ DIY headphone kits are currently available through Kickstarter and are already funded. There are now several stretch goals set: the more pre-orders will be made through Kickstarter, the greater the choice of different colors will be.
The ultimate goal for the future is to develop high-quality products that can be 100% locally made - eliminating the need for print+ altogether.
The headphone is only the beginning for print+. There are more print+ DIY products in the making. By developing products that can be made locally print+ wants to develop new methods and concepts for manufacturing. Print+ was founded to gain insight in the field of local (and distributed) manufacturing. The ultimate goal for the future is to develop high-quality products that can be 100% locally made - eliminating the need for print+ altogether.